Off To War

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent, Dougok, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Vlad, Uengghae, Simrii, Kagfak, Irma
Location: Pack of Daggers, orbiting Sitka then loaded in the hangar bay of the NCNS Aedhfazidzso
System: Ikhog, then jumpspace

1126.48.5 - 07:00 Imperial Time, 15:00 Vilani Time

Right on cue, the ship is hailed by a comm officer from the Aedhfazidzso and given instructions to rendezvous with the Gaekhatoksuthoeg, a carrier. Gvarokh has Uengghae pilot the ship over and dock inside the carrier's general hangar bay. They are then asked to remain on board their ship until the carrier goes to jump. At that point, the hangar bay will be pressurized, and they'll be free to walk about the hangar bay and enter the carrier proper.

08:00 Imperial Time, 16:00 Vilani Time

The fleet enters jumpspace.

Gvarokh calls a meeting to bring everyone up to speed.

He explains to all who weren't present or awake after the previous evening's dinner the reasons for not leaving the fleet when they had the chance and points out that it appears to be paying off.

Vincent says, "If Cap'n isn't opposed, and someone would like to join me, I was thinking about heading to the mess hall over the next week or so. Not that I don't love all you guys, but the chance to mingle with some others doesn't exactly come along that often. By the way, will there be a strategy meeting with your transporters, and will we be having our own?"

"I don't know if we'll be having a meeting with our 'transporters.' I have to assume so. Ngath wants to parade us in front of the leadership of Gemid to show how their plans were foiled. As for our plans, we'll discuss those in a minute. I want to tell you my rules for leaving our ship.

"I'm cool with all of you going to mess a couple of times over the week, but with three restrictions: 1) It must be a group of at least two people, 2) at least one Vargr must be in the group, and 3) obviously don't say anything relevant or outside our cover stories.

"It probably won't look good to just hibernate and avoid the carrier's crew. So, some token interaction is a good idea.

"Any questions?"

There are none.

"Ok, now we should discuss how we're going to enact the plan we worked on during the trip to Sitka's sun and back.

"I plan on using the battle as a cover to drop rocks on the lab and the facility."

Lakir speaks up, "I'm not sure that's gonna be wise, Cap'n. There's going to be a lot of shootin' goin' on, and we'd be riskin' gettin' vaporized by some capital ship's weapons batteries."

Chuck adds, "There's also the question of time. Assuming we don't get vaporized, we'd still have to travel to the nearest belt, set up the gear, and travel back with the rock. Will the battle still be going on? Even if we mini-jump away from the battle, and everything goes perfectly, the best we can do to get a rock there is a day and a half. The more likely scenario is a week."

Elloekothe says, "We might be better off asking our new found friends to nuke the site for us."

"Hell yeah," Lakir says a little too loudly. "I like that option. If they say 'no', we can always circle back later and finish the job after things have cooled off."

Gvarokh says, "And that's why we have the discussion. So, since that is a stupid idea, we won't do it.

"The only problem with asking them to nuke it is that I don't know if they want to nuke it or just take it over. I guess we'll hope they nuke it and if they don't, we'll take it out ourselves. If we do it ourselves, there should be a significant reduction in military presence, so that should help. And if we don't have a direct opportunity, assuming Ngath wins, which we're pretty much betting on here, we should be able to come back at any point."

Elloekothe says, "I can't say with any certainty that Ngath wouldn't nuke the site—using biological WMD isn't his style—but there's still a chance."

Gvarokh mulls this over. "Hmm. Maybe we can wait until in the middle of the battle and then suggest a nuke dropped right here would make sure the weapon doesn't make it into the wrong hands or anything."

"It's worth a bite," she replies.

12:00 Imperial Time, 20:00 Vilani Time

A liaison officer arrives to inform Pack of Daggers' crew of the general rules for guests and the galley schedule. There's nothing onerous in the rules. They primarily dictate what parts of the ship are off-limits, accessible with escort, and are full access. The galley is open around the clock due to the shift nature of the crew. She also informs that the final details of the plan for Gemid are being discussed on Ngath's flagship and will be shared with the rest of the combined fleets when they emerge from jump at their refueling point.

Vincent, Simrii, and Dougok head off to lunch shortly after the liaison officer departs. Lakir, Vlad, Kagfak, and Uengghae depart fifteen minutes after them. At one point, there's a tense situation as a couple of the ship's enlisted vargr object to the presence of humans at the same galley table as them. But Dougok deftly defuses the situation with humor and actually rallies their shipmates against them. The objecting pair are browbeaten by their shipmates into accepting the visiting humans in the galley.

There are no further incidents during the week, but it might be because Dougok volunteered to escort every human to the galley whether or not he was hungry.

Refueling Stop

Characters: Gvarokh, Dougok, Vincent, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Irma, Vlad, Simrii, Kagfak, Uengghae
Location: Pack of Daggers, parked in the hangar bay of the NCNS Aedhfazidzso
System: Unknown

1126.49.5 - 08:00 Imperial Time, 24:00 Vlani Time

The Aedhfazidzso has exited jumpspace, although in which system is unknown.

11:00 Imperial Time, 27:00 Vilani Time

The liaison office arrives at Pack of Daggers to explain what will happen once the fleets arrive at Gemid. "There will be three fleets in total when we arrive at Gemid. Two fleets will maneuver towards the naval base while Ngath's fleet will proceed to Gemid. You will establish a video link with the flagship and stand ready. Ngath will contact the base commander and inform the admiral that Ghaenaedzue's assassination plot has been foiled. At this point, we'll be showing video of Captain Tsuengsaekh and you. There may be some barking back and forth. You're free to say anything so long as it doesn't undermine Ngath. Ngath will then demand the base commander to immediately stand down or suffer the bite of two fleets.

"Ngath will then contact Ghaenaedzue and parade video of you and Captain Tsuengsaekh. Again, say what you wish but always defer to Ngath. If Ghaenaedzue doesn't immediately surrender, Ngath's fleet will begin bombarding the planet, starting with the city of..." she check her notes "...Gimarkikerkha. There will be a short time for Ghaenaedzue's pack to realize the folly of their ways and arrest him. The Gemidians will also be privy to this conversation and be given a chance to rise up. We're sure that they would rather revolt than be annihilated.

"Questions?"

Gvarokh says, "No questions. Sounds like a solid plan. I'm good with it."

"Very good. Just so you're aware, we have three fleets refueling, so it will likely be a standard day before we're under way. Oh and it will be a short jump. About four and a half standard days. There will be a shipwide announcement a few hours before we expect to exit jumpspace so that all crew and guests will be ready."

With that, she leaves.

49.6 - 9:00 Imperial Time, 17:00 Vilani Time

Jump!

12:00 Imperial Time, 20:00 Vilani Time

Gvarokh calls a meeting with Dougok and Elloekothe in the crew lounge. It isn't a private meeting; all crew are welcome to listen in and contribute if they're so inclined. The subject of the meeting is what insults Gvarokh can lob at the naval base commander and then Ghaenaedzue.

Elloekothe and Dougok exchange looks of surprise from their seats on a couch.

Gvarokh paces the room. "I think I'd like to keep the insults relatively general with the base commander, simply saying that the plot is exposed and that he needs to surrender or be killed like a toothless fleabag. It won't be a personal attack, but a general verbal one. However, with Ghaenaedzue it will be personal. Any possible insult to his person I want to use. I'd like to work in the fact that Ghaenaedzue was too cowardly to attempt the assassination attempt on his own, but rather forced us to do his dirty work and then was going to kill us, success or not. He is the epitome of a gutless coward, or whatever insult you feel would be strong enough to trigger him. In both cases, I will praise Ngath and say how pointless the assassination attempt was.

"But the key point is to provoke Ghaenaedzue into fighting so that Ngath's fleet bombs the city with the weapon facility."

Dougok is smiling and his tongue is hanging out. Ears are up. If he was standing, his tail would be wagging.

Elloekothe's reaction is a bit more subdued, probably due to her line of work. She turns to Dougok as she replies, "I think we both agree that praising Ngath is a smart move."

"Yes."

"It's more for the lower ranks of their packs to hear that. It robs both the base commander and Ghaenaedzue of charisma and heaps it on Ngath, showing how mighty a leader he is.

"Sowing doubt in the base commander's head is definitely better than riling him up. You want him to abandon his alliance with Ghaenaedzue and return to the fold."

"Agreed." Dougok nods his head. "If his pack of officers are swayed by your words, they'll help him sniff out a new path, either encouragingly or by nipping his tail. But the three fleets should go a long way in making them question their loyalty."

"As for Ghaenaedzue, making him look as vile as possible will be important."

"Yes!"

"I was thinking about a worm, some kind of parasite."

"Yes!" Dougok jumps up from the couch. "This is going to be fun!"

The three then spend the rest of the meeting brainstorming Gvarokh's speech.

Weapon Sample Meeting

Characters: Gvarokh
NPC: Elloekothe, Irma
Location: Sickbay of Pack of Daggers, parked in the hangar bay of the NCNS Aedhfazidzso
System: Gemid

1126.49.7 - 10:00 Imperial Time, 10:00 Vlani Time

Gvarokh has let Elloekothe know that he needs to meet privately with her and Irma, and the three of them have now convened in sickbay.

Gvarokh says, "Considering our current circumstances, do we still need our copy of the weapon?" He addresses Irma, "Have you obtained all that you need from it? Because if you have, I wanna get rid of it." He turns to Elloekothe. "The last thing I want is for Ghaenaedzue or whoever to point out that we had two deliveries and for Admiral Laengnourz to realize that we only disposed of the one back in the Ikhog system. If we can get rid of it, we probably need to."

Irma mulls it over. "Well, I've been able to study it as much as I can with the equipment I have aboard this ship. And the database that Vincent hacked goes a long way as well. But I don't know if Naval Intelligence will be ok with that. They have much more extensive equipment at their disposal and having an actual sample on hand for testing goes a long way."

Elloekothe responds, "Our mission, first and foremost, is to destroy the facility that creates the weapon and the data responsible for creating it. Thanks to Vincent, we now have that data. Also thanks to Vincent, his worm has deleted the database from their servers."

"I'm sure that they'll have a backup copy somewhere," Gvarokh says.

"True, making it imperative that we get Ngath to give the order to nuke the facility. I doubt that the backup copy was stored offsite."

"If the site gets nuked, the admiral will back us up if Naval Intelligence has an issue with destroying the sample, especially with the data that Irma collected and the database that Vincent provided."

"In that case, I'd like to incinerate the sample in the power plant or output to the maneuver drive. If not, then the plasma exhaust from the maneuver drive. Or maybe we purge our waste on arrival and put it there. I dunno. I just want to make sure we can't get trapped by that type of accusation. Regardless, our story is that we dumped both into the sun, not just the main weapon we were supposed to use on Ngath. Of course that relies on the belief that no one was checking the weapon box that closely and that we could have strapped the sample onto it. We just need plausibility."

"I don't know about that last part. I don't know if those personnel were paying attention. But I'm puzzled. Why would Ghaenaedzue bring it up in the first place? We were captured by loyalists, and the assassination plot was foiled. Why would it matter if we had the sample or not to Ghaenaedzue?"

"I am just trying to plan for contingencies. I do not want to be caught off-guard."

Elloekothe nods. "Understandable.

"As for destroying our sample, we can't put it in the fusion reactor. It's not a garbage incinerator. Your engineer will kill you if you try to put something like that in there. The only thing that'll work will be to put it into the plasma exhaust from our maneuver drive."

Irma says, "If we can't do that, we can just expose it to space."

Gvarokh and Elloekothe turn to look at her.

"Vacuum. Once the medium evaporates, the virus will crystalize, rendering it inert. Smash the vial, and the glass and residue disperses. It would just be a matter of minutes before the spread pattern becomes so thin that it would be impossible to collect any meaningful sample."

Gvarokh blinks, then says, "Oh. If it's that easy, I guess there is no reason to be premature. Let's just be ready to dispose of it if it becomes a liability. I do admit it would be good if we can bring it back with us."

"Oh yes," Irma continues. "Space is incredibly hostile to all forms of life. Vacuum. Radiation. This is why when we find exceptions, like tardigrades, that they're immensely valuable to research. Fortunately for us, the Envar bioweapon isn't as hardy as our little 'water bear' friends."

"Ok, but you need to have it somewhere that we can dispose of it within five minutes."

"It might be a bit tight running to the airlock or the cargo hold, but a good hiding place can be Plan B."

Gemid Endgame

Characters: Gvarokh, Dougok, Vincent, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Irma, Vlad, Simrii, Kagfak, Uengghae
Location: Pack of Daggers, parked in the hangar bay of the NCNS Aedhfazidzso
System: Gemid

1126.50.4 - 1:00 Imperial time, 1:00 Vlani Time

Aedhfazidzso exits jumpspace. Everyone is wide awake and in position. The video feed is set up, tested, and confirmed to be in working order.

About 87% of the three fleets have arrived and are proceeding to their respective targets. More ships are arriving and following suit. Someone on the Aedhfazidzso's bridge has provided an external passive sensor feed. It shows Gemid and its moon dead ahead.

An audio feed comes in, the monitor indicates that you're on mute, so all Pack of Daggers can do is listen.

"This is Admiral Laengnourz of the Ngath Confederation's Third Fleet. On orders from Great Hunter Ngath, I'm ordering Admiral Vughtsothaghzurri to stand down or face arrest for treason. The assassination plot against Great Hunter Ngath has failed. We await your response, but do not delay as Great Hunter Ngath's patience is limited."

Fifteen minutes go by, and the three fleets move ever closer to their intended targets. Meanwhile, more ships from the fleets arrive in-system.

Video comes in. "This is Admiral Vughtsothaghzurri. What is the meaning of this? What is the basis for these lies?"

While Admiral Laengnourz repeats his instructions and adds details concerning captured Captain Tsuengsaekh, who shows up on screen in shackles, a communication comes in from the liaison officer to stand-by.

"Furthermore," Admiral Laengnourz is heard to say, "we have your assassins."

A message on the bridge viewscreen indicates that the ship's camera is on.

"Who are these ptakh? They look like refugees from the Touzagh."

"Don't lie, Admiral. It is unbecoming. You know very well who these people are. Consider watching this video." To the group's surprise, a video of the Weapon Application Committee Meeting is played. The angle of the camera clearly shows Gvarokh, Elloekothe, and Lakir on one side and the committee members on the other.

"This is fake!" Admiral Vughtsothaghzurri protests.

"You're welcome to have your people verify its authenticity. However, we're prepared to obliterate your position if someone on your base so much as sniffs our positions with an active sensor."

Gvarokh clears his throat. "Give up, Admiral. The plot has been exposed. You need to surrender now or be killed like a toothless fleabag."

"Listen to me, you mangy cur, I will not be talked to like that by some random corsair. Hey! What are you doing?"

An off-camera voice is heard to say "Admiral Vughtsothaghzurri, you are relieved of command pending the outcome of this investigation."

"What? You knew what we were planning. You can't—"

Armed guards are seen leading him away.

"You fickle bitches!" Admiral Vughtsothaghzurri growls. "Ngath shows up and now all you do is wag your tails like lap dogs."

After he disappears from the camera, a female vargr, commodore judging by the rank tags, says, "Admiral Vughtsothaghzurri has been relieved of duty. This base will stand down, Admiral Laengnourz." She salutes. "Long live Great Hunter Ngath!"

Once the connection is cut, Admiral Laengnourz is heard to say, "Admiral Tsuedzoun, as discussed, we'll continue on to take position over the moon's north pole—"

"Admiral, Ngath's fleet is under attack!"

Admiral Laengnourz has directed his fleet to change course away from Gemid's moon and towards Admiral Zorrsuekhthino's fleet, wherein Ngath himself is present. Meanwhile Admiral Tsuedzoun has chosen to split his fleet: Half are proceeding on towards Gemid's moon, where the naval base lies, and the other half will provide support to Ngath.

Admiral Zorrsuekhthino's fleet is under attack by Admiral Zofoungae. Elloekothe explains that she was the female at the Application Committee Meeting.

Ngath is having difficulty getting his message out due to jamming coming out of Zofoungae's fleet and even the starport. It is decided that the broadcast will be tightbeamed to Aedhfazidzso, which will then broadcast to the system at large.

"I'm here, Ghaenaedzue," Ngath's image shows up on the monitor. "Your attempt to kill me failed. Your assassins were captured and have turned on you. First, let me reacquaint you with Captain Tsuengsaekh."

Captain Tsuengsaekh's image shows up on the monitor. He looks haggard as he relates his testimony to the broadcast audience about the assassination plot.

Once he's finished, Ngath gets back on the line. "And he was just the escort for the assassins! Now you should hear from them. Here's Captain Gvarokh of the Pack of Daggers."

Taking his cue, Gvarokh relates the story of how Ghaenaedzue altered their previously agreed upon business deal and forced him and his crew to go on this near certain suicide mission to assassinate Ngath because Ghaenaedzue didn't have the teeth to do it himself. Gvarokh goes on to further insult Ghaenaedzue to the listening public by mentioning a flea infestation, incontinence, an inability to grow a proper coat due to mange, and an inability to detect the scent of prey due to his snout being so far buried up his own ass. He goes on to further speculate that he ate roadkill and developed a horrible case of intestinal worms, but was surprisingly cured when the parasites realized they'd infected one of their own.

Even though Dougok helped write these insults, he's still rolling on the floor laughing his tail off.

"ENOUGH! The lies that this sixth rate corsair amount to nothing more that juvenile slander."

Before he can get further with his rebuttal, Ngath interrupts him. "Surrender now, and I'll let you leave this system and the Confederation with your tail tucked between your legs."

"NEVER!"

"You might want to reconsider, Ghaenaedzue. Have a look at your forces."

In fact, the fighting has died down as Admiral Zofoungae's fleet has sustained heavy casualties due to being outnumbered two-and-a-half to one. And the naval base isn't offering any assistance.

When it becomes abundantly clear that Ghaenaedzue and his allies have lost the support of their forces and local leaders, communications come in from all over the system declaring their allegiance to Ngath.

The starport issues a lockdown notice and security issues a warrant for Ghaenaedzue's arrest.

Over the in-ship comm, Gvarokh asks the liaison officer if he can be connected to Admiral Laengnourz. Not seeing a reason why not, she states that she will endeavor to do so. "What is it in regards to?"

"Destroying the weapon that precipitated this mess."

In takes several minutes, but eventually Admiral Laengnourz appears on the comm. "Yes, Captain?"

"We still need to destroy the facility that manufactured the weapon."

"I understand that, but it is quite likely the research has been backed up elsewhere."

"At least the means to manufacture the weapon will be gone. Before a new facility can be built, your wolves can sniff out the server that it's hiding in while locking down this system to all traffic. It was made on a tech level sixteen world. Even if the information on how to formulate and build the weapon escapes, how many of those worlds are there out there that can build them."

"Yes, you're right. I'll speak to the Great Hunter."

An hour later word spreads through the fleets that the order has been given for the manufacturing facility to be destroyed with plasma demolition charges. Great Hunter Ngath, in his great capacity for mercy, declared that nuking the city of Gimarkikerkha, even after evacuating it, would be too great a hardship on the innocent civilians.

Next: Mission Accomplished